James Harden reportedly will play role in picking next Rockets coach
The Houston Rockets on Wednesday night saw an extremely disappointing season come to an end courtesy of a 114-81 playoff elimination loss to the Golden State Warriors.
One of the biggest issues facing the Rockets, a team that went from appearing in the Western Conference Finals last season to barely sneaking into the playoffs this year, is determining the organization’s future at the head coaching position.
J.B. Bickerstaff did the best he could given the difficult circumstances after replacing Kevin McHale on an interim basis following a 4-7 start. Reports suggest that there remains a possibility that the Rockets could bring Bickerstaff back next season, the team is expected to initiate a thorough coaching search, with Jeff Van Gundy believed to be the favorite at the moment, although the team reportedly has received permission to interview Warriors assistant Luke Walton as as well.
No matter who the Rockets choose as the team’s next head coach, James Harden reportedly is expected to have a role in the ultimate decision.
Calvin Watkins of ESPN reports that both Rockets owner Leslie Alexander and general manage Daryl Morey expect Harden to take part in not only the decision-making process in choosing a head coach, it’s also believed they anticipate the superstar guard will assist the team in attracting free agents.
The report notes that Dwight Howard is not expected to play a role on either front, as the center likely will be playing elsewhere next season as it is expected he will exercise his player option and become a free agent. Given that the relationship between Howard and Harden is “cordially bad” according to reports, that eventuality hardly would come as a surprise.
A report surfaced earlier this season that not only did Harden orchestrate the dismissal of McHale early on in the season, he also allegedly conspired to get Howard dealt at the trade deadline. Rockets CEO Tad Brown not surprisingly denied the reports, but even if that wasn’t the case then — at least in McHale’s firing — the team apparently is more open to seeking Harden’s counsel at this time.